Jill Biden marks Cesar Chavez Day at immigration ceremony in California

First lady Jill Biden smiles after touring the Pennington Heath Science Center
Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli
First lady Jill Biden smiles after touring the Pennington Heath Science Center at The Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

First lady Jill Biden visited California on Monday and attended a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony in honor of César Chávez Day.

“Geography doesn’t define this country after all our borders have changed. Language and ethnicity don’t define us. Nor does race or religion. America is and has always been defined by us, now you. We the people. With varied backgrounds and beliefs,” Biden said at the event. 

“We are millions of individuals to add up to something so much bigger than any one of us. It’s an idea that is both simple and revolutionary enough to change the course of history,” she added.  

The event was held in honor of Chávez, an American civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, now known as the United Farm Workers labor union. 

During the event, the first lady administered the Oath of Allegiance to 31 citizenship candidates from nine different countries. 

Biden said Chávez should serve as an inspiration to all Americans. 

“His words are a call to all Americans to raise up our voices and bring out our best and that is especially true of you, our newest Americans,” she said. “Because who knows the value of justice better than those who have faced persecution and exploitation? Who knows how to better build strong communities than those that have left behind destruction?”

Biden also recognized United Farm Workers’ current president, Teresa Romero.

“With your leadership, the United Farm Workers continues to be a voice of justice and humanity for the hardworking people who keep food on our tables. You make our nation stronger everyday,” Biden said.  

In her remarks, Biden spoke on her own family’s history of immigration from Italy.  

“In their own way through our family and in our community my immigrant great grandparents reshaped their small part of this country. It’s a common story like yours, and it’s an American story,” she said. 

The first lady also spoke about the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who died last week. Albright immigrated to the United States with her family from Czechoslovakia when she was just a girl. 

“She was a woman who defied convention and broke barriers and in doing so she made our country stronger,” Biden said.

Tags César Chávez Immigration Jill Biden

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